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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Don’t Look Up’ on Netflix, in Which Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence Fight the Good Fight Against Nihilism




Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Don’t Look Up’ on Netflix, in Which Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence Fight the Good Fight Against Nihilism

Netflix’s star-spangled Don’t Look Up is the new comedy from Adam McKay, the filmmaker who famously shifted from goofball Will Ferrell comedies that are easy to love (Anchorman, Step Brothers) to withering, self-referential political satires (The Big Short, Vice) that are considerably more divisive. For the new film, McKay ropes in Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence to play scientists trying to tell the world about a “planet-killing” comet that’s comin’ right for us, and Meryl Streep as the POTUS who’s more concerned about the polls than armageddon. Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Ariana Grande, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry and Timothy Chalamet also turn up for this theoretically hilarious final hallelujah for Planet Earth – now let’s see if the movie’s a distracting celeb parade, or more than the sum of its many very famous parts.

The Gist: Kate Dibiasky (Lawrence) is about to have an apocalyptic comet named after her: Does it get any better than that? She’s a PhD candidate at Michigan State University who spots the 9km-wide astral body in the Oort cloud, and her associate, Dr. Randall Mindy (DiCaprio), is the astronomer who calculated its trajectory, a 99-point-something-something percent probability of it slamming into the Pacific off the coast of Chile and quickly extinguishing all life on Earth. Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan) is a fed scientist who gets them an audience with President Janie Orlean (Streep) and her failson/chief of staff Jason (Hill). Prior to the meeting, Kate and Randall are so nervous, she pukes in a White House trash can and he pops a Xanax as they’re stared down by a painted portrait of Nancy Reagan. At this point, we get to watch the opening credits, which run deep with big Hollywood names. You’ve gotta take note of the “with” credits that come at the tail-end of such credits; when the “with”s are Streep and Blanchett, you know you’re watching a MOVIE.

When Kate, Randall and Teddy finally get face time with Madam President, we take note of the pictures in the Oval Office: Big portrait of Nixon, snapshots of her with Steven Seagal and Bill Clinton. Randall tells her that a “planet killer” comet with the strength of “a billion Hiroshima bombs” will destroy Earth in six months, and she says they just have to “sit tight and assess” the situation. Why should she listen to two schmoes from Michigan State University? She has Ivy Leaguers to consult, and midterm elections to worry about. Miffed, our intrepid and earnest protags decide to go to the press, knowing for absolute certain that their intrepid and earnest pleas will take precedence over the sensational breaking story about the Supreme Court justice nominee that was not only a nude figure model in college, but also Orlean’s secret lover. Meanwhile, we meet Peter Isherwell (Rylance), a buh-buh-buh-billionaire cell phone magnate with just the most radiant fake teeth you’ve ever seen. He’ll play a role in all this, because he’s the third-richest person in the world. Elsewhere, life goes on. A gecko molts. A hummingbird sups on nectar. A New York City sanitation dept. worker tosses rubbish.

Randall and Kate get booked for a news-chat show whose two hosts (Blanchett and Perry) can’t take anything seriously, especially the end times. Randall becomes the “sexy astronomer” on magazine covers, while Kate’s tearful and angry plea gets her meme’d within a millimeter of her sanity. He gets swept up in the hoopla, and she gets stepped on, but they still stump heavily for science and reason and rationality to whoever will listen, which is basically nobody. The POTUS eventually comes around; a plan to deflect the comet with nukes is derailed; the cell phone guy exerts his influence; Kate starts kissing a boy (Chalamet) who’s very sweet and sensitive even though he looks like he hops trains. Somewhere, bull elephant seals, clueless to their impending doom, fight over a female. Humpback whales hump. A mother hippo honks at its cub. Cub? Calf? Calf. It’s calf.

dont look up trailer
Photo: Netflix

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Don’t Look Up is the scene in Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds where Werner Herzog says that scene in Deep Impact is beautiful crossed with Vice crossed with Idiocracy. It wishes it was the 21st century Dr. Strangelove, but it’s not.

Performance Worth Watching: This is a tough one. There are so many stars in this movie! So I’m gonna go with the baby hippo.

Memorable Dialogue: Kate’s hot take on the White House: “We gotta get outta here. This place is a freak show.”

Sex and Skin: Some brief frontal and back-al nudity; a very quick snippet of a couple having end-times nookie.

Our Take: So many people living on Don’t Look Up’s version of Earth are so infuriating, it’s not hard to be Team Comet. We’ll feel bad for the few good, flawed-but-worthy people who tried to do the right thing – Kate, Randall, Teddy, Randall’s sweet and patient wife (Melanie Lynskey) – but in the long run, the planet’s destruction is better for the universe. About a third of the way into the movie, its cynical fatalism kicks in, and we either saddle up for its ya-hoo nuclear-missile ride into annihilation, or grow weary of its conspicuous overtures, which add up to one big, loud, conspicuous metaphor for climate change that’s being howled a quarter-inch from our faces. Subtle, it is not.

But is it funny? Yeah, it’s funny. McKay’s screenplays are always good for several big laughs, and the gaudy procession of Hollywood VIPs can be entertaining. Yet it’s diminishing returns for McKay’s The World is F—ed trilogy – The Big Short’s crisp, devilish slashing apart of Wall Street led to the easy-target skewering of “Darth” Dick Cheney in Vice, and now Don’t Look Up takes aim at the whole shebang, the State of Politics in America Today, and it’s more bloat than substance. McKay takes aim at Trump rallies, social media and reality-TV frippery, the slow creep of ethical compromise in news media, political nepotism, isolated billionaires, the growing global influence of Big Tech, science denialism, and there’s probably more, but making this list is wearing me out.

McKay insists that all of the above works in intricate lockstep and is leading us to obliteration, and, hey, tell us something we don’t know, man. You’ll trawl the film for a little hope, and find it in the kindness of others dwelling in the valley of the shadow of deathmongers, i.e., self-involved knowitall politicians and greedy CEOs. It certainly says something that Don’t Look Up inspires big-topic discussion in spite of its unholy DiCaprio-Lawrence-Streep-Blanchett-Chalamet conglomeration. McKay broadswords rah-rah swelling-pride patriotic astronaut movies, guts idealistic average-person-runs-for-President political fantasies and eviscerates cataclysmic disaster films as a means to stump hard and heavy for common sense. He insists that if we’re going to go down, it’s best to go down laughing. And in the glib tone wholly inspired by this movie, I can only say, sure, why not?

Our Call: There’s plenty of amusement to be gleaned from Don’t Look Up, in its mostly too-easy jokes and irresistible cast. But let it be known that it doesn’t justify its 138-minute run time, its commentary is obvious and it never quite fulfills the potential of its plethora of talent. So lower your expectations before you STREAM IT.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at

Stream Don’t Look Up on Netflix


Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death




Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence




Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers




Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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